What Does a Simple Will Cover in Georgia?
Clients often ask what a simple will in Georgia covers. Is a simple will enough or do they need something else? To answer these questions, we're going to explain some basic information about what a will does and the options available.
Understanding Simple Wills
In Georgia, a will is a legal document that outlines how a person's property should be distributed after their death. The document also nominates someone to be in charge of that process.
A simple will is very basic. Often, a simple will leaves all of the deceased person's assets to a surviving spouse or to adult children. A simple will does not establish any testamentary trusts, leave gifts to charity, or make specific bequests to other family members or friends. Generally, everything goes to the spouse or adult children outright.
A simple will does not include provisions to create a trust for minor children or young adults, and it does not set aside money to be managed in trust to care for pets. In addition, a simple will does not provide any creditor protection for beneficiaries, or include provisions to establish a special needs trust that could be useful if you have a beneficiary who receives certain types of government benefits or who is not capable of managing inherited assets on their own.
You can create a will with these types of provisions, but it would not be considered a “simple” will.
When a Simple Will is Most Appropriate
A simple will is best for individuals with relatively straightforward estates and simple wishes for the distribution of their assets after their death. Simple wills work for those without minor children or complex family dynamics that could cause someone to challenge provisions.
When we create any type of will, we usually include a statement that the person making the will (the testator) revokes any prior wills they've made. We will also identify members of their immediate family and nominate the executor who will take charge and settle the estate, along with a backup executor in case the first person nominated can't serve in that role.
Then the will lays out a plan of distribution dictating where the assets will go.
Provisions to Make the Probate Process Faster and Easier
While the above provisions represent the basic content of a simple will, we also include provisions designed to make it easier for the executor to administer the estate. For instance, we will waive the requirement for posting of a surety bond with the probate court. We would also waive the requirement to conduct an inventory and appraisal of estate assets and make periodic reports to the court.
Another feature we include is a self-proving affidavit to allow the will to be admitted to the court without witness testimony or other proof of the proper execution of the will. By adding these provisions, we reduce the burden on the executor and make the probate process faster, easier, and cheaper.
When a Simple Will Might Not be the Right Choice
While a simple will works in many situations, it is not always the best option. If you need to establish a plan to hold assets in trust for minor children or young adults or if you need to plan for individuals with special needs, you should have more than a simple will. Similarly, a simple will cannot be used to create a pet trust.
If you have a large or complex estate and could benefit from tax reduction strategies, a simple will is probably not the right choice. Finally, if there is the potential for disputes among family members, other planning tools may be more appropriate than a simple will.
Peach State Wills & Trusts Can Help You Choose the Right Strategies to Protect Your Family
If you have any questions about what tools may be appropriate for your situation, whether it's a simple will, a more complex will, a revocable living trust or something else, we invite you to reach out to us. You can schedule an estate planning strategy session to get started with just the right plan for your needs.